Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sunday Snippets - 26th June 2016

Since my brother’s wedding last Saturday, I’ve felt pretty wiped out and have spent a lot of the week trying to recover. It was a really lovely day, but also very long and I had to push myself an awful lot to get through it. Don’t get me wrong, it was totally worth it to see David and Emma have such a happy day, but I knew I would suffer for it afterwards. So, I’ve tried to have a relatively quiet week just doing bits and bobs around the house (and sleeping of course, lots of sleeping!) We’ve only got around five weeks until my other brother gets married, so I need to give myself as much chance as possible to recover in time for that. But I have got a few appointments and events coming up between now and then, so we’ll see how things go.

We had stayed at the wedding reception venue on Saturday night, so on Sunday had to be up reasonably early for breakfast, which was hard work! After breakfast, we packed everything up and headed home. My Dad and I picked up the dogs and cats, and then I rested for a while. At lunchtime, we all went round to Emma’s parents’ house for a family BBQ. It was nice to just be able to all relax together after the craziness of the wedding. When we got home I fell asleep on the sofa for quite a while. Then I cuddled up with my Dad and we watched the Dad’s Army movie.

On Monday I woke up really late feeling pretty rubbish, which I was expecting to happen after pushing myself so much at the weekend. So, I just took things very slowly and spent what was left of the morning watching TV and doing a little bit of sorting in my room. I was going to try and tidy out my wardrobe, but decided that was best left until another day when I had a bit more energy. In the afternoon I wrote some letters to my penpals and watched a couple of programmes I had recorded – Love, Nina and Gogglesprogs. I felt pretty flat all day, but received this cute felt card from my friend, Emma, which made me smile.

Tuesday morning I managed to get up a bit earlier than Monday, which was good. I spent my morning writing two blog posts and editing some photos. I then had a bit of a rest on the sofa and watched some TV. In the afternoon I popped to Tesco with my Mum and sister to pick up a few essentials. I was really struggling with pain, which isn’t much fun, so when I got home I tried to rest, but found it hard to get comfortable. This funky parcel arrived from my friend, Lissa, at the weekend, and I managed to open it in the afternoon, which really cheered me up.

On Wednesday morning I ended up waking up quite late – I just feel shattered all the time and feel like I could sleep forever. I did manage to sort through the clothes in my wardrobe, although it’s always one of those jobs where I get halfway through and wonder why I started. In the afternoon I tried to rest on the sofa and watch some YouTube videos, but my pain levels were really high and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I popped down to Waitrose with my Mum to treat myself to some peonies, as they won’t be around for much longer.

Thursday morning I had to be up reasonably early, as I had a phone call about a prospective new opportunity, which was a bit anxiety provoking but could lead to something exciting. I spent the morning editing and uploading a new video to my YouTube channel (which you can find here). In the afternoon I watched some YouTube videos and replied to some blog e-mails. I also tried to move my blog over to my own domain name, which proved slightly stressful! We also went out to vote for the EU Referendum, which I felt incredibly anxious about. I received this lovely parcel from Bear Hugs Gifts, which I’m excited to review on my blog soon.

I had planned quite a productive morning of blogging and video editing on Friday, but I ended up getting distracted by all the EU Referendum coverage, so that went out of the window. I don’t feel that I can write this post without expression my views, so please bear with me. I’ll be honest; I was really disappointed with the result, and at the moment feel quite scared about the future of our country (and especially anxious about the future of myself and others who have disabilities and chronic illnesses). But what saddens me most is the amount of hate I’m seeing between people from both sides. I really believe that it’s important for us to discuss the outcome, express our concerns about it and find ways to move forwards. But what I don’t believe is necessary is racism, xenophobia, name-calling and violence. How is that going to help us move forward as a civilised society? I hate the thought that so many people are feeling so unwelcome in this country now, that Scotland and Northern Ireland might break away from us and that some people believe that a vote to leave gives them permission to spread hate and fear. I just hope that reactions like this will get stamped on, and that people will start to pull together and help us move forward.

Anyway, that’s enough political talk for one post! I wanted to try and do something with my morning, so managed to do a little bit of tidying in my room. After lunch my Mum took me to my Opticians appointment, where I had a contact lens follow-up to see how I’m getting on with the new lenses I’m trying. As we went past Holland and Barrett I decided to pick up some magnesium and zinc, as my professor had recommended I try it. I also found this Magnesium Oil that a couple of friends suggested, so thought I’d try it out too. We then popped over to Next so I could pick up a couple of things I’d ordered, and dropped into Waitrose on our way home. I opened a few cards I’d ordered and one of them was this cute unicorn one.

Yesterday was one of those days where I kind of wondered why I bothered getting up. I had so many plans of things to get done, but I woke up really late again – I’m so exhausted at the moment. I was going to do some work on my computer, but by the time I’d got myself up and dressed I’d run out of energy. So I just ended up snuggling with the dogs and chatting to my brother and sister-in-law when they came over. In the afternoon I did manage to write some letters to my penpals, including one to someone in the Letters of Love group. I also watched Gogglesprogs and a couple of episodes on I Want My Wife Back. In the evening we watched my Dad open his birthday presents, which was nice.

If you haven’t read my blog before, I just wanted to let you know that I have a second blog, which mainly focuses on my health in more depth than I talk about it here. It’s largely for friends and family to follow and keep up with what’s going on, but if it’s something you would be interested in reading as well, you are more than welcome to follow me over there. It’s called ‘Zebra Crossing’ and you can find it by clicking here. I’m trying to keep it updated fairly regularly, so hopefully there will be something there for you to read!

I’m also trying to post on Snapchat a bit more, so if you fancy following me, my username is Jennycole44.

What have you been up to this week? I always enjoy hearing about your news and adventures!

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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Nivea Daily Essentials Creme Care Facial Cleansing Range*

I’m a big lover of skincare products, perhaps even more so than make-up (although that’s a pretty hard choice to make!) So when Nivea offered to send me a few of their new products to talk to you about, I, of course, jumped at the chance to try them out! Nivea has got to be one of my favourite skincare brands. I’ve been using their products for as long as I can remember, and I just love the simplicity of their range.

I’d like to introduce you to the new Nivea Daily Essentials Creme Care Facial Cleansing Range. It can often be a challenge to find a gentle, yet effective cleanser for your skin, but Nivea, who are dedicated to creating caring skincare products, have developed a brand new generation of innovative facial cleansing products. They contain a nourishing formula that promises to gently yet deeply cleanse and leave skin feeling touchably soft.

Dr. Svenja Möllgaard, face care expert at Nivea, comments: “Today’s hectic lifestyles expose us to more dirt and grime from make-up, pollution and environmental factors, making it more important than ever that women have an effective cleansing regime. This includes cleansing both morning and night. Properly cleansed and cared-for skin helps the skin recovery process at night. Whilst in the morning, cleansing is required to remove oily substances such as sebum and sweat that result from the nightly cell regeneration process. Clean, cared-for skin will not only look better but will provide a smoother base for flawless make-up.”

There are three new products to choose from, whether you prefer cleansing with water, cotton wool or wipes, and all three are suitable for the delicate eye area. Nivea Daily Essentials Creme Care Facial Cleansing Lotion (200ml); RRP £3.29 can be gently massaged on the face using either fingertips or cotton wool application. It’s a really lovely, gentle formula that leaves your skin feeling squeaky clean and beautifully soft.

Nivea Daily Essentials Creme Care Facial Cleansing Cream Wash (150ml); RRP £3.29 can be massaged in small upward circles, and then rinsed off with water. This, like the other products, has the typical Nivea scent, and feels lovely and gentle on my skin.

Nivea Daily Essentials Creme Care Facial Cleansing Wipes (25); RRP £2.99 are ideal for quickly wiping away grime, instantly cleansing the skin. I know face wipes are frowned upon, but these are great for taking off your make-up before doing a proper cleanse.

As well as the Daily Essentials range, there is also a new range of Nivea Protect and Care anti-perspirants to choose from. Strong on sweat but soft on skin, the anti-perspirant works to provide 48 hour protection, while containing the familiar ingredients of the classic Nivea Creme – a nostalgic scent which has been in our homes for over 100 years. The product is packaged in the instantly recognisable blue Nivea, and is available as a spray, roll-on and stick.

I’m really excited to be trying out these new Nivea products, and am already loving their simple, clean fragrance and gentle effectiveness on my skin.

Are you a Nivea fan? Have you tried any of these new products yet?

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Family Wedding!

You may have noticed that I didn’t put up a Sunday Snippets post at the end of last week (or you may not have noticed at all!) and I wanted to do a quick update to explain why. Rather than it being down to illness, which it usually seems to be, this time it was for a happy reason. On Saturday 18th June 2016, my baby brother, David, married his childhood sweetheart, Emma, and I was lucky enough to be one of their bridesmaids. It was a really special day spent celebrating with family and friends. Emma looked beautiful in her gorgeous dress, and David scrubbed up pretty well too! I have a few unofficial photos that we took on our phones to share with you, which really sum up how fantastic the day was.

Emma, Me and David

My sisters, Bekkah and Rosiie, and Me in the middle

Bekkah, Rosiie, Me and Emma

Bride and Bridesmaids selfie

Despite it being an incredibly long day and feeling pretty unwell by the end of it, I’m really happy I was able to share in this special day and see David and Emma so happy. Here’s to many happy years ahead for them both!

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Thursday, 16 June 2016

Making myself High Street Happy in collaboration with Quidco*

You may remember my post last month, which I did in collaboration with Quidco, talking about the things that make me High Street Happy (you can find it here). Well, they very kindly gave me £50 to go and make myself high street happy with, in one of their affiliated retailers, and asked me to chat to you about what I bought.

In case you didn’t catch my last post and aren’t quite sure what I’m talking about, let me explain. I’ve been using Quidco for a few years now, but always assumed it was purely an online thing. But I was wrong! Quidco High Street is a cashback scheme, which allows you to earn money back on your shopping in more than 5300 retailers nationwide, with over 40 different brands. If you don’t have a Quidco account already, head over to the Quidco website (here), click ‘Join Quidco now’ and follow the instructions. Through this link, you can also earn £10 bonus cash back!

Once you’ve signed up, all you need to do is register your card on the website, then when you shop at one of their retailers, Quidco tracks your purchase and pays you cashback as a percentage of your purchase. Once the retailer has confirmed your purchase, the cashback will be deposited automatically. From there, you can transfer it to your bank or PayPal account or ask to have it paid as an Amazon gift voucher. There are a huge variety of retailers on the list, from Argos to Debenhams and Mothercare to JD Sports. You can find the full list on the Quidco website.

So, what’s the catch? Well, there isn’t one! There are no hidden costs. Quidco makes money from a combination of the fees from Quidco Premium accounts and the commission that retailers pay them for directing traffic to their sites. I’ve found the online version so useful, and often use my cashback to either treat myself to something nice, or save it for Christmas to help me buy presents for friends and family. So I’m really excited that I can now use Quidco on the high street too!

I was very excited to do some shopping, so went into town with my Mum last weekend, in the hope of being able to treat myself to something special. I always pride myself in being honest on my blog, so I think it’s important that I tell you the whole story, good and bad, rather than sugar-coating everything. Unfortunately, I found the experience a little more stressful than I’d hoped. Before we went out, I had a look on the Quidco website to make sure I knew which retailers were taking part in the cash back scheme. I identified a few of my favourite shops to check out, including River Island, Debenhams, Hotel Chocolat and JD Sports.

We started in River Island, who are currently offering 5% cash back if you pay with Visa. After browsing the rails and finding one pair of trousers to try on, which ended up looking awful, I left the store feeling pretty disappointed. ‘Never mind’ I thought; I still have other shops to look round. So we made our way over to Debenhams and started looking round. I wanted to check what the cash back rate was in Debenhams (2% plus one gold coin if you’re interested), so had a quick peek at the Quidco app on my phone. I noticed there were some terms and conditions underneath, so thought I’d better just see what they were. One of them says, “In-store cash back will not be paid for purchases made in concession stores e.g. department stores,” so I was a little confused about what this meant. After tweeting Quidco, who were very helpful, I found out that you only get cash back for items bought from a Debenhams branded counter. So, things from beauty counters and clothing concessions like Oasis, Ted Baker and so on don’t count. I thought it was important to make this clear, as I’ll be totally honest and admit I don’t always read terms and conditions (and know a lot of people don’t!) so it’s something you could easily miss.

Trying to find something in Debenhams that wasn’t a concession was pretty tricky, but in the end I decided to treat myself to a new perfume, as they are paid for at a Debenhams counter. After spending more time than I care to admit smelling all the different scents, I went for a bottle of Prada Candy Florale which came in at £42. It smells so beautiful and delicate, and will be perfect for the summer months. With Quidco in-store cash back for Debenhams at 2%, I’m set to get back 84p. It may not seem like much, but imagine using your registered card every time you shop in an affiliated retailer – it will soon add up!

As I hadn’t quite spent my £50, I decided to head over to Hotel Chocolat to see what could tempt me. I’d seen on the app that they were offering 4% cash back if you paid with a Visa card, and luckily enough, that’s the card I use! I was actually very good, and instead of buying something else for myself, I picked up a delicious looking box of chocolates to give to my Dad on Father’s Day. You know you’re on to a winner with Hotel Chocolat – I’ve tried a lot of their goodies, and am yet to be let down. I’m hoping my Dad won’t mind if I pinch one or two chocolates from his box! I paid £22.50 for the chocolates, which means I will get 90p cash back. Again, not a huge amount (although surely better than nothing!) but it will soon add up.

Despite it being a little stressful trying to work out what I could actually get cash back for in Debenhams, overall I think the concept is a good one. There are plenty more high street stores offering cash back with Quidco, including some of the following:

·      CaffĂ© Nero (1%)
·      H. Samuel (5%)
·      Blue Inc (6%)
·      Officers Club (8%)
·      Cotswold Outdoor (8%)
·      Vodafone (3%)
·      Joy The Store (5%)
·      Thomas Cook (£15 if you pay with Visa)
·      Liberty London (5%)

I’m hoping that as the scheme grows, more and more high street stores will sign up to be part of it. But even now, there is still a good selection with some great cash back offers, and who can refuse getting a bit of extra money with no catch?! It’s incredibly easy to sign up to both Quidco online and to register your card for high street cash back, and is something I couldn’t recommend enough.

I think, especially at the moment, it’s really important to support our local high streets. It’s very easy and convenient to buy things online, and believe me; I’m guilty of turning to the Internet over going out shopping. But with more and more high street stores closing, I do worry that we are gradually losing something that’s at the heart of a lot of communities. Although I doubt I’ll ever turn away completely from online shopping, I’m hoping now I know about Quidco High Street, I will make more of my local high street stores.

*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Quidco, but all opinions are my own

Do you use Quidco already, or does Quidco High Street sound good to you? I’d love to hear what you think about shopping on the high street!

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Sunday, 12 June 2016

Sunday Snippets - 12th June 2016

The last week has been a bit of a mixed one, both weather and health wise. We’ve had beautiful sunshine and torrential rain, and I’ve had better days and not so great days. It’s also been quite a busy week, which I’ve found a bit of a struggle, especially with the humidity. But it has been nice to see the sun and for it to feel a bit more like summer!

Last Sunday I had quite a long lie-in, as I was absolutely shattered after the Hen Do the day before. I’d planned to see my friend, Lilli, as we hadn’t seen each other for ages, but she knew I wasn’t feeling great so we decided to make it very relaxed. As it was so lovely and sunny, she picked me up and took me to a local pub, where we sat in the sunshine and had a drink. I had a raspberry lemonade and we had a nice catch-up for half an hour or so. Lilli then dropped me home and I rested for a while. In the afternoon I did some blogging and then watched The Jungle Book, as it was on TV.

On Monday I got up later than I’d planned and only woke up because the phone rang and it was someone for me. My Dad took me to my local hospital and I had an ultrasound scan on my foot to see if I’ve got an inflamed nerve that’s causing the numbness and pain in my toes. I rested for a while when we got home and did a bit of admin on my laptop. Then, later in the afternoon, my Mum took me to the Opticians for a contact lens check-up and sight test. Thankfully my eyesight hasn’t deteriorated any further, but they found a spot on the lens of one of my eyes, which needs to be kept an eye on. I’m also going to try some different contact lenses, as I’m not getting on with the ones I’m currently using. I also picked up this month’s Elle magazine, as I really wanted to try one of the new eyebrow products from Benefit.

Tuesday morning I went to the hairdressers to get my red hair back so it’s nice for the wedding. It was good to get it done, but I was in a lot of pain and just couldn’t get comfortable in my chair. My Mum brought me home and I rested for a while. I popped out in the garden for a bit with the dogs, as my Mum was doing some gardening. Our rose bushes are starting to flower, and one of them has these beautiful pink flowers on it. I spent the afternoon trying to catch up with my blog e-mails, but wasn’t particularly productive because I couldn’t get comfy. I’m very tempted to increase my Tramadol dose as I’m not seeing my Pain Doctor for another month, but I know it probably isn’t a good idea without medical guidance.

On Wednesday I was meant to have a follow-up group meeting at the Pain Clinic, but found out earlier in the week that they’d got the date wrong. So I had a completely free day, which was exactly what I needed. I had a lie-in, and then spent the morning editing photos and blogging. I didn’t get as much done as I wanted, but something is better than nothing I guess. This little chap came upstairs to see me and decided to try out the cat’s bed! In the afternoon I caught up with a few e-mails and messages, and then managed to write to some of my penpals. I’m so behind with my letters, but I’m getting there slowly.

Thursday brought with it a fairly quiet morning, as I slept until quite late. When I woke up I saw that my peonies had started to open – they’re so pretty! I spent the morning doing some tidying in my bedroom, but didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped because of the heat. In the afternoon I went to my friend, Katy’s, with my Mum. While she had her nails done I did some work on my laptop, then Katy did my eyebrows and I had a massage. I’m hoping it might help with the pain for a little bit. We then had to head round to pick up our bridesmaid dresses for next week.

Friday was a bit of a wobbly day unfortunately. In the morning my Mum took me over to the Opticians so I could pick up some contact lenses to try out. I had planned to do some work on my laptop when I got home, but ended up falling asleep on the sofa. My Glamour magazine arrived, which was nice. In the afternoon I had an appointment with my GP. We went through some physical health stuff and then talked about my mental health. There were quite a few tears, but she was very kind and listened to what I said. Unfortunately there’s no possibility of getting any kind of mental health support though, so I’m feeling pretty scared and alone at the moment. I just feel like there’s no point in asking for help any more. I had a pretty bad evening and am struggling a lot with very dark thoughts.

Yesterday, despite feeling absolutely awful, I made it to Festival Place to blog about their Eat Street event. Thank goodness for my lovely Mum who kept me propped up and pushed me round! We watched Nadiya, who won The Great British Bake Off, do a cooking demonstration, and then I went to get her new book signed by her. She was very sweet and I also took a selfie with her. Mum and I did a bit of shopping, but then had to head home, as I was feeling too unwell. I’m really struggling with pain, especially in my head. I also seem to have developed pain in my face, which I’m finding hard to find any relief for. When we got home I collapsed on the sofa and managed to sleep for a while.

If you haven’t read my blog before, I just wanted to let you know that I have a second blog, which mainly focuses on my health in more depth than I talk about it here. It’s largely for friends and family to follow and keep up with what’s going on, but if it’s something you would be interested in reading as well, you are more than welcome to follow me over there. It’s called ‘Zebra Crossing’ and you can find it by clicking here. I’m trying to keep it updated fairly regularly, so hopefully there will be something there for you to read!

I’m also trying to post on Snapchat a bit more, so if you fancy following me, my username is Jennycole44.

What have you been up to this week? I always enjoy hearing about your news and adventures!

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